DAY ZERO: GETTING THERE: 9.5km
I hadn’t realised that Cambridge was an international rail hub with SIX platforms and so almost missed my train to Thetford. I munched on an incredibly tasteless ‘Delice de France’ Pizza Bread, only because it was marginally better than sawing my arm off with my Swiss Army Penknife, listening to an incredibly precocious child bang on about model steam trains for forty minutes.
Thetford is a surprisingly attractive little town; I don’t know why I was surprised at this realisation as I strolled through the shopping centre. I was walking out to the start of the Peddars Way as I thought it might be a good idea to limber up a little as I have done virtually no walking at all since the TGO Challenge back in May. It felt good to have a rucksack on again; an old friend of many adventures. Having said how pleasant Thetford is, the main ‘A’ road out towards the start of the Peddars Way is not so pleasant to stroll along.
All nastiness comes to an end eventually and I turned off down to Rushford. The village is set amongst rolling breckland and luxuriant woodland: All quite delightful. I had a look around the wonderful thatched church, which I have found out subsequently was the church used in the film “The Witchfinder General.” The interior is wonderfully calm; it appears I was quite lucky to find it open as it is usually locked. I had time to soak up the atmosphere of the place and admire the ancient wall stencilling. The stillness of the place felt utterly timeless. I took a sneaky peek at the medieval hall behind, built before the Black Death; it looked a gorgeous hideaway hall. You can find out more by clicking on the link I provided, above.
Culturally enriched, I strolled onwards in the afternoon sunshine to meet up with Darren. We soon found an entirely illegal spot to wildcamp: Darren had set his Trailstar to “Storm Height” just to be safe. You never know, do you?
We were serenaded by pheasants, Muntjac and whole battle groups of crows. I had what approximated to ‘proper food’ whilst Darren chomped his way through a whole pile of E Numbers and assorted chemicals. That lad should eat better!
DAY ONE: KNETTISHALL HEATH TO BRICK KILN CAMPSITE, ASHILL: 28.0km
Robin turned up bang on time in the morning and so we took the obligatory “Start Point” photographs before setting off down the leafy National Trail.
For the dog-end of October, we were having beautiful weather and we had a few very relaxing breaks in the sunshine admiring the beautiful Norfolk countryside and skyscapes.
Just after the ‘Dog & Partridge’ it appeared that our Darren was struggling a bit. Enquiries established he had an injured thigh muscle; I had no idea the chap owned such things as ‘muscles’ so I was quite perturbed to then find out that he had bought a dodgy damaged one; probably off the internet. He struggled along, manfully. No gurly wimps on this trip!
The sun was setting before we arrived at the campsite.
DAY 2: ASHILL TO THE DABBLING DUCK, GREAT MASSINGHAM: 24.6km
For the gear nerdy types amongst the congregation (we have a few, bear with us…) you can see Darren’s MLD Trailstar and Robin’s Duomid. There: That’s dealt with the dreaded kit side of things. No more needs to be said about the stuff. One sentence is quite enough on this blog, thank you very much.
By now, Darren’s leg was proper poorly. He had brought the entire internet with him on his iPhone and iPad but there wasn’t time to deliver a new leg. So he hobbled along to have a break at McDonalds; the reasoning being that the lad seems to run on junk food so this might fix the leg.
However, not even the crunchy coated nuggets could lift the ailing leg’s spirits and so at this point we waved goodbye to the limb, to meet again later that evening. Darren preferred to keep his leg company, so he stopped as well.
The Adventure was now without its headline adventurer and was down to two men and so we strode off, full of purpose, our E Numbers having been topped up by a Big Macs and Fillet of Fish.
We abided by the Norfolk Constabulary’s warnings and coursed no hares, even though it wasn’t Sunday.
Castle Acre is a pretty little village: quintessentially English. So we took tea in the local pub. Well, Robin took tea and I supported the local brewer.
But we couldn’t sit around enjoying ourselves: we had work to do! So we set off once more to head straight as an arrow along the Roman road.
There were poppies. Is this usual at this time of year?
Eventually we clambered our way to a Trig point at a good THREE HUNDRED feet above Her Madge’s Imperial Sea Level. Unaided. No Oxygen was used.
It was a bit drizzly at this point and so Our Robin deployed his latest piece of cool kit: his umbrella. We cut a dash, we do, on these adventures!
We made our day’s objective, the ‘Dabbling Duck’, a fine bistro pub in Great Massingham and pitched camp in their back garden. Wonderfully, we were re-joined by Big Darren and the Norfolk Notable, Martin Rye at our dining table, where great plans of derring-do were plotted.
I seemed to be the only chap on the fine local ales, so I did my level best to make up for my colleagues’ abstemiousness.
DAY THREE: GREAT MASSINGHAM TO HOLME NEXT THE SEA: 25.2km
What a beautiful morning! There was a good looking young lady at breakfast with us, all lap-topped up on her breakfast table. I can never understand someone who wants to read emails over breakfast… We strode off after an excellent sausages and perfectly fried eggs into the sunshine. This is how backpacking should be done! No worries with the washing up…
Not a cloud in the sky:
There were animals to talk to. It has to be done.
This part of the Peddars Way is quite rolling countryside and it felt good to be bobbing up and down into the little valleys.
It really was a gorgeous day. It’s refreshing to have such a simple life on days like this; your only worries are to find food and drink.
I came upon a bargain in Ringstead that Lord Elpus would have been proud to have discovered: It simply said “Hand Raised, Medium Pie” and it was £1.00 instead of £2:35 I fought my way through a good pound in weight of pork pie and washed it down with Fentiman’s Ginger Beer. It’s important to nourish the body as well as the soul on these hikes.
Towards the end of the day, we were met by Darren and his very famous side-kick, Strider, who walked with us to the coast.
The view seawards was spoiled somewhat by a massive wind farm but if you angled your camera away slightly to the east they could be removed from your view.